When Jesus called his first four disciples, He simply said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” according to the Gospel of Matthew (4:18-22).
Note the reaction of the four men. Matthew tells us they each “immediately” dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus. They left behind their way of making a living to follow an itinerant preacher, apparently without any extended thought.
This same Peter and 10 of the other 11 disciples Jesus ultimately called to His side during his three brief years of ministry before His trial and crucifixion went on, with Paul, to change the world and history in the years following the Resurrection.
I became a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ at 9:15 am on March 1, 1991, but it wasn’t until 26 years later that He called me to the ministry of sharing the Good News of His Gospel with congressional staffers on Capitol Hill.
But my calling didn’t happen anything like those first four disciples. They responded immediately. I had to be fired from my job, after months of resisting, evasion and rationalization. And even then, I still put up obstacles.
Here’s how it happened: I was happily ensconced as executive editor leading a team of three hand-picked investigative journalists at a non-profit media outfit.
For six years, we had been generating a steady stream of important, exclusive stories exposing waste, fraud and corruption in government. I loved my job, my colleagues and my profession.
But sometime early in 2017, I began to have these thoughts that seemingly came out of nowhere that God was calling me to some sort of ministry. And as these ponderings continued, I found that I kept coming back to the fact that virtually everything I’d done in my career included, directly or indirectly, contact with Members of Congress and especially with Hill aides.
“I found that I kept coming back to the fact that virtually everything I’d done in my career included, directly or indirectly, contact with Members of Congress and especially with Hill aides.”
Having spent four years early in my own career working on the House side and then the Senate side, I had a longstanding and healthy respect for Hill aides.
They are mostly young adults with a passion for public service and politics, who are also routinely over-worked, underpaid, and expected to devote their lives to “making the boss look good,” not themselves.
I had also developed a deep appreciation for how influential Hill aides are, since almost nothing gets done in Congress without them. They have tremendous power by virtue of their positions to influence public policy in this country, yet they may well be the most invisible power center in the nation’s capital.
But for months in 2017, I wrestled with self-doubt, the comforts of professional satisfaction and, most especially, the Lord. Then came the morning of Sept. 17, 2017. I hadn’t sleep much the night before and, as the miles rolled by on my long commute to and from the newsroom in downtown D.C., the exasperation and frustration were building.
Finally, at one point, I shouted in my car “Lord, are you going to have to fire me to get me off my butt about all this?” Like they say, be careful what you ask the Lord because you will get an answer, sooner or later.
“Hallelujah, there’s my answer, so the very next day, I announced my plans for a full-time ministry taking the Gospel to Capitol Hill, right? Right??? Wrong.”
Mine came sooner, much sooner, in fact that afternoon sooner! About 2:30 pm, the boss came into my office and I knew instantly from the look on his face that it was not going to be a positive conversation.
Sure enough, non-profit journalism depends on support from donors (large and small), as well as from foundations, but the needed support grants weren’t coming in or being renewed as expected at that point, so …
Hallelujah, there’s my answer, so the very next day, I announced my plans for a full-time ministry taking the Gospel to Capitol Hill, right? Right??? Wrong. It took another year in another newsroom trying to save a sinking ship before God finally removed all further doubt:
On Oct. 31, 2018, virtually everybody, me included, in the newsroom was let go because a new owner decided things weren’t improving fast enough. Yes, journalism can be a cruel business, especially when you’ve done it as long as I have and have come to love it as much as I do.
But God knew exactly what He was doing. I’m still doing journalism but now, like Paul the Apostle, as a tent-maker rather than an all-consuming, ego-driving obsession.
And in the nearly two years since God removed that last obstacle, HillFaith has become a 501(C)(3) tax-exempt foundation, more than half a million people have clicked on posts on the blog, a great board of directors has been recruited, a financial foundation is being laid for an awesome program of apologetical outreach on the Hill, and plans are afoot for a fantastic 2021.
You have no idea how excited I am. Stay tuned!